This week just gone I played at the 2008 Australian University Games in Melbourne. It was an amazing rollercoaster of a ride, and one of the most memorable ones ever. I entered the week thinking it would be another enjoyable tournament, with a little more excitement than usual, and came out of it emotionally and physically hammered (in mostly satisfying ways).
Uni Games should be old hat for me: I have attended 8 out of 11 Uni Games or Uni Championships, as either player or coach. Across the years, the teams I have been on have won medals of every colour, or come close. Every year I meet old friends and make new mates.
But this year was incredible. My team, Monash, bought into the team vibe in an big way, from their enthusiasm for warming-up to their constant cheering of each other. The rookies and veterans both inspired me with their dedication. There was banner-making, dancing, cheering, glowsticks and team dinners. We had an Indonesian fanclub.
My teammates improved in amazing ways through the tournament. On Wednesday morning, I was grinning in delight to myself at their ability to consistently execute a warm-up drill in the blustery wind. A warm-up drill!
My team played five nail-biting last-point-wins games during the tournament, including a 6 point comeback win over UWA. Exhilirating and exhausting. We lost only two games all week, by 1 point and 3 points. But they were the wrong games - we finished 7th out of 19 teams.
We invested a lot into this team, and I wanted to see my teammates rewarded with a good finish for their effort, but it didn't happen this time.
After such effort and to miss out on the semi-finals, my mind has constantly been replaying those little factors in those 2 losses, and pondering the what-ifs. Normally I am pretty good about accepting a loss and moving on. After the 2005 Nationals final (scoring 4 consecutive points with Fakulti to draw level with Chilly then losing that last point on a hail-mary throw to Gack), I was at peace. There were two good teams, we had our chance in the last point with the disc, and I was proud of our efforts. No regrets.
Likewise after losing the 2005 World Games final. We had only 5 turnovers in the game. I didn't throw or catch a goal, but was proud of my team's efforts and my performance. That silver medal was a big accomplishment for Australian ultimate.
Those Uni Games losses though: a heavy weight. The support that Monash gave each other during the week is a mighty salve though.